We all have our favorite products. We take the price, the design, and the general feel of the product into account.
Of course, no one can tell you if you are right or wrong since it is all a matter of taste. But some criteria are more cut and dry. That includes what is arguably the most essential element of all, the return on investment (ROI) you can expect from a product.
Investors use ROI as a way to calculate how much money they can earn for every dollar spent investing. The higher the ROI, the more profitable the investment. So, we will use that formula to determine the top baseball products to invest in.
How to approach the best Baseball products to invest in
There are two primary ways to invest in a product. You can buy rookies and other cards you expect will gain value over time. Or, you can put that money into wax boxes.
The two are pretty different. We will look at both when calculating our ROI for the top baseball products to invest in. Of course, the best products will offer suitable investments in both.
But of course, the wax is more of an investment in the development, while putting your money into singles is more of an investment in the players.
Investing in wax for the top Baseball products
Wax is a bit like bonds or safer investments if we consider regular investments. Not every box gains value over time. But most do, and losing much money on a sealed container is not shared. But your ceiling may not be that high anymore.
Gone are the days when very few people kept sealed boxes. After all, everyone knows that they can have a significant amount of value. Unfortunately, many boxes out there lower the weight significantly since there is always a product available.
Try to get a box of Bowman from 2016 versus one from 2022, and you will see what I mean. The supply is much higher nowadays.
But if the upside ain’t what it used to be, there is a great advantage here. Predictability. You can look at the prices boxes from previous years are fetching and get a good idea of what to expect.
Please don’t go too far back in comparing prices because, as I said, wax prices are now lower due to increased supply. But those of the last two-three years will give you an idea.
The primary variable is, of course, the quality of the rookie class. A box with an exceptional rookie class can sometimes be worth several times those with an average or below-average one. But what is lovely about boxes is that usually (but definitely not always), they don’t fall well below purchase price when the rookie class doesn’t pan out.
So, we will measure the investment potential of products by considering the value of their exceptional and typical years.
Investing in rookies and single cards from the top baseball products
It can be tricky to invest in rookies at the singles level. Sometimes, the most mainstream rookie card doesn’t take off; an unexpected item takes the headlines. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules to predict which card will become to go to. But here are some basic rules of thumb for you:
The bigger and better-known brands tend to produce the more valuable rookie cards. So, for basketball, Prizm is usually your best bet. It will usually be a Bowman 1st or a flagship parallel for baseball.
Visuals matter. When there are several rookie cards on the market, if there is one with a particularly striking photograph and design, you can bet it will become iconic. The design can be incredibly powerful. For example, the 1971 Topps Thurman Munson is worth more than the rookie 1970 because the design and pictures are compelling. So how do you know which visual will be the hobby dominant one? Wish I could tell you in words. But as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography, “I know it when I see it.” Look at some of the big rookie cards, like the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle or the incredible Ronald Acuna “bat down” cards, to see what I mean.
Population matters: The matter of value is sometimes separate from iconic recognizability. Especially today, the best-known and beloved rookies don’t always get the most recognition on the open market. Often, the very low-pop RPAs and parallels have the highest value. So, if you want to invest in a rookie, pick up some of their low-population items. Those will skyrocket if they pan out.
How to rank the top baseball products to invest in
The baseball market is less saturated with products than its football and basketball equivalents. So far, Topps has not been quite as enthusiastic about pumping out garbage releases as the folks over at Panini.
But they still have several questionable releases, and Fanatics may start pumping out new stuff soon. Therefore, having a guideline on what to watch out for is helpful.
Baseball is a game that treasures its heritage far more than any of its competitors. That is also true for its collectors. The baseball hobbyists were the last to adopt chrome cards, and they still aren’t really sure what to make of RPAs twenty years after they appeared on the market.
So it is unsurprising that it was the last sport to adopt the pitch clock! But that innovation is a reminder that progress eventually comes for the national pastime. Just you know, very slowly.
All this to say, baseball fans stick to what they know. And that charming (or annoying) tendency makes it easier to invest in baseball products than any other. Fans love their Flagship. They have grown to love Bowman. And it will be a long time before they really trust anything else.
Hobby folks today are no fools. They will take the pack odds and any other clues Topps leaves out and pounce on them. Soon you have algorithms worthy of NASA, extrapolating the population count of every product on the market.
The upshot of this is that we all know immediately when a product is overprinted. Please take a look at the flawed release of the 2022 Topps Chrome Update to see what I mean. So, you will want to avoid overprinted products, especially when investing in wax or base cards. But it is worth noting that this factor will have less of an effect on parallels or autos.
The most crucial factor of all is the return on investment. But, of course, it is impacted by the first two factors. Boxes with the right kind of tradition and robust appreciation for the hobby tend to yield better rookie cards. Meanwhile, the boxes may be more expensive as a result too.
These are the factors we will take into account as we delve into the top baseball products to invest in.
Top ten baseball products to invest in ranked
Here is a list of the best products to put your money into. We are taking into account both the average value of singles and the investment potential for sealed wax.
1- Bowman Chrome
How much does a box go for? Generally $300-400. Some of the older ones are worth a good deal more. For example, a 2016 box can be as much as $3,700.
How much are PSA 10 key rookie cards: A Shohei Otani Bowman Chrome PSA 10 rookie card is worth about $900.
Bowman Chrome has become the default for the baseball rookie card. Overtaking Flagship because Chrome is the thing nowadays, and Bowman has a significantly lower print run than the flagship releases.
It is particularly notable for its excellent coverage of players in the International Free Agent pool, particularly the Dominican Summer League. Therefore, the talent pool is a little deeper but more wildly variable than the other Bowman releases. After all, the IFA players are very hit-and-miss, as we all know.
Either way, the main attraction in Bowman Chrome is the high-quality chrome versions of the coveted Bowman 1sts. And you always have an excellent selection of parallels, which have become the trademark of Bowman.
Of course, remember that with Bowman, you often have no idea if the players you pull are any good. That is unless you are a serious prospect geek. For those of us who like instant gratification, that can be a bummer. One way to address that is to read Nicole Cahill’s Bowman prospect articles.
But it’s also the secret of the value of Bowman Chrome. You don’t have every dude in the neighborhood sending in the same card for grading as you do with Flagship (can you say, Wander Franco?) Instead, they mature after time in exciting ways. But the value of Bowman is usually better as a result.
Think of Flagship as a keg of beer and Bowman as a bottle of wine. Of course, you can’t drink the wine right away, but it has the potential to be worth a lot more. Meanwhile, you can drink the keg right away and party. But you sure may regret it in the morning.
2 – Topps Chrome
How much does a box go for? Boxes from the last three years are priced at $200-300. But older boxes can be worth a lot more. For example, the 2019 Topps Chrome Baseball hobby box is worth over $800.
How Much are PSA 10 key rookie cards: A Topps Chrome Shohei Otani Rookie Card goes for about $1,200.
The top baseball cards don’t usually go for the sums which their basketball and football may fetch. But Topps Chrome is quite respectable in that regard, nonetheless. The best cards from this product tend to be in the $6,000-8,000 range.
That is a remarkably high potential return on a box that usually costs about $200 to get. And while the return on wax isn’t massive, these boxes definitely appreciate over time. So you won’t be losing money on Topps Chrome wax, and a good rookie crop (and there have been so many great young players coming up lately) could make a tidy profit.
This is one fantastic product from a financial standpoint and in every other way as well.
3 – Topps Heritage
How much does a box go for? A hobby box of Topps Heritage usually goes for between $100-200. As always, older boxes can go for significantly higher prices.
How much are PSA 10 key rookie cards?: A Heritage Shohei Ohtani Rookie Card goes for a bit over $200.
Heritage is another cheap Topps rip, but one with a loyal base of collectors. It is wonderful for set builders and nostalgia addicts. That may sound niche, but those are two of the most prominent groups among baseball collectors. And I happen to be one of them. Oh, you think you are better than me?
Nonetheless, Heritage competes well in terms of value with all the other non-Bowman Topps releases. Not so much in terms of boxes, which have little upside. But instead, the singles do surprisingly well. That has to do with the attractive old-school designs. But also, because hits in Heritage are hard to come by, they can be worth quite a bit.
After all, this is a set builder set, so there aren’t too many significant autos in there. Therefore, a massive card like a BGS 10 Shohei auto /69 went for almost $14,000, and its Aaron Judge equivalent sold for $11,000.
And really, the combination of potentially massive hit cards with a very low entry price makes Heritage a much better ROI product than you would expect.
4 – Bowman Draft
How much does a box go for? Usually, boxes are for $250-350 dollars. However, many people prefer the jumbo hobby boxes, which can go for a considerably larger amount.
How much are PSA 10 key rookie cards: A Shohei Otani Bowman Draft Chrome PSA 10 rookie card is worth about $100.
Bowman’s draft goes deeper into the prospecting game by focusing on recent draftees. We love this product because every card with the coveted Bowman 1st mark features a player from the current year’s draft.
However, as a warning, they often don’t include some of the biggest names from the most recent draft. Sometimes, getting all the names, photos, and licenses in time for the release is complicated. Therefore, you may have to wait till next year in some cases. That can be frustrating since Bowman Draft exists to scratch that itch and get the most recent players.
Generally, Topps treats this release as somewhat lower on its priorities than Bowman Chrome. It can show in the quality control, prospect selection, and inserts. And while Draft can be a lot of fun, we take it less seriously than Chrome. Therefore, the value tends to be considerably lower. You can see that by comparing the value of the Shohei Ohtani cards.
5 – Topps Stadium Club
How much does a box go for? Boxes usually sell for somewhere between $200-250. Not a bad return for boxes that cost under $150 when they are new.
How Much are PSA 10 key rookie cards: A Stadium Club Shohei Otani Rookie Card goes for about $120.
Stadium Club is not known for its high value. It’s a really cool rip for those who like roaring action pictures. So, there is a ceiling for these cards. If you look for the highest values for Stadium Club cards, you will see that a 1997 Michael Jordan has the highest number of sales. Meanwhile, some top soccer cards also do better than their baseball cards. Baseball cards tend to peak at around $3,000.
However, this has some advantages; Boxes of Stadium Club are inexpensive yet age well. The sound cards in this release aren’t precisely life-altering. However, they are worth many times more than the box. So, Stadium Club offers a reasonable return on a relatively minor investment.
6 – Panini National Treasures
How much does a box go for? A hobby box of National Treasures usually goes for $500 or so. However, the 2019 box is worth over $2,000.
How much are PSA 10 key rookie cards: A 2018 National Treasures Shohei Otani Gold Rookie Patch Auto /49 Rookie Card goes for about $4,000.
We know. We know. National Treasures is unlicensed, and no one wants that garbage. Right? Well, it appears the market has a different opinion on this Panini product. Possibly because of the relative weakness of Topps high-end products, the singles from National Treasure tend to do very well on the open market.
Their RPAs sometimes perform better than their Triple Threads equivalents. Meanwhile, some of their highest sale cards include all-time legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig autos.
Why do these unlicensed cards do so well, at least relatively speaking? There is no way around it. The National Treasures cards are far more attractive and classier than their Topps equivalents. The brand also has enviable prestige.
But, of course, they do not reach the values of their basketball and football peers. Baseball products are unlicensed, and cards from the national pastime also tend to have a lower value. But the boxes cost a lot less too.
Therefore, there is a surprising amount of value in National Treasure Baseball. And here is the thing, even if Topps manages to make National Treasures obsolete in the future, these cards will remain the most beloved high-end items of their time. Therefore, they remain a substantial investment.
7 – Topps Flagship
How much does a box go for? A recent hobby box goes for $100-200. Unfortunately, there are usually too many available for boxes to fetch a very high asking price.
How much are PSA 10 key rookie cards?: A Topps Series 2 Shohei Otani Rookie Card goes for about $150.
When we talk about Flagship, these are three different products under one umbrella. The releases that make it up are Topps Series 1 Baseball, Topps Series 2 Baseball, and Topps Update Baseball. They are all very similar. Each will have the same design and chronicle developments through the same baseball season.
However, there are substantial differences. Most notably, the print run. Generally, the print run for Series 2 is significantly smaller than Series 1, while Update is still smaller. That difference can help with the value of base cards but is less critical with numbered cards and autos.
Baseball fans love busting open Series 1 and Series 2. But the truth is, there aren’t too many great cards in them. Most of the best hits are under $2,500. Meanwhile, the wax tends to be lower in the long term than a series like Stadium Club.
On a certain level, this release is a victim of its own success. It’s massively popular and, therefore, ridiculously overprinted. That works against the long-term value of the cards.
8 – Topps Triple Threads
How much does a box go for? A Topps Triple Threads hobby box usually goes for $450-550.
How much are PSA 10 key rookie cards?: A Shohei Otani Triple Threads auto /99 rookie card goes for about $2,800.
Triple Threads has some great cards. At least theoretically, there are bigger hits in it than any other Topps product. But it also has a problem. The product comes with a high-end price tag (by Topps standards anyway) but without high-end level prestige.
So, the cards and the boxes may have an expensive feel, but if we compare it to Bowman Chrome, the cards, and wax have lower value. These are the facts, and they are not encouraging for anyone thinking of investing in Topps Triple Threads.
So, does that mean you should just avoid Triple Threads cards? Not so fast. Fanatics is clearly very satisfied with the deal they made in buying Topps. But one major weakness of the company is that it does not produce strong high-end cards, which is certainly not comparable to Panini.
Fanatics is undoubtedly aware of this problem and will invest a good deal of resources into increasing the popularity and appeal of Topps high-end products, including Triple Threads. Fanatics may go in different routes. They could end up purchasing Panini to use their Flawless and National Treasures lines.
Fanatics could try to create their own pleasant copies of those cards. Or they might heavily invest in Triple Threads, hoping to increase its popularity. If Fanatics follow that final route, Triple Threads cards may be worth far more in the future.
9 – Topps Inception
How much does a box go for? A hobby box of Topps Inception usually goes for $130-170.
How much are PSA 10 key rookie cards?: A Shohei Ohtani Inception auto /99 rookie card costs about $2,500.
Inception has some of the most distinctive, and in my opinion best, designs among the Topps products. But the designs are polarizing, leading to less popularity than the product deserves. However, it does have fundamental weaknesses as well. Inception has sticker autos and does not use game-worn memorabilia, cutting the value of hits.
Because of that, Inception wax really isn’t much of an investment. The boxes generally remain at the original price point. So, you can certainly use your storage space more effectively for other products.
So, why is Topps Inception on this list? Some of the best singles hold up very nicely. And because they stand out from the crowd of other rookie cards and autos, I firmly believe they will hold better value than most.
This product has found itself a nice niche as an early spring release with a bold design, and I think Fanatics will market it harder. But even if I am wrong, you will have some beautiful cards on your hands if you invest in Inception.
10 – Topps Gypsy Queen
How much does a box go for? A hobby box of Gypsy Queen usually goes for $120-160.
How much are PSA 10 key rookie cards?: A Shohei Otani Gypsy Queen rookie card costs $125.
Gypsy Queen is not the most significant investment in the world. I mean, that is why it is down in 10th place. Someone needs to go last, after all. But you can find some incredible hits among the large amounts of base in Gypsy Queen. We brought the base Shohei Otani Gypsy Queen rookie card as the example above because that is what you are likely to pull.
But a 1/1 Shohei auto sold for an incredible $19,000 in March 2023. These cards are, of course, scarce in Gypsy Queen. Sure, there are a large number of parallels in this product, and many of them are gorgeous. Still, few are truly valuable.
But when the stars align, this product’s unique and beautiful designs make the hits pop. So, few people rip Gypsy Queen expecting to make big bucks, but stranger things have happened.
Final word on the top Baseball products to invest in
Bowman remains king for investment in baseball. Bowman Chrome does exceptionally well and is worth the relatively high price tag. It has genuinely eclipsed classic Bowman, which has been left in the dust.
Draft is another good option, but it does not hold up anywhere near as well. However, just because we all love Bowman doesn’t mean other good options exist. There are plenty of top baseball products to invest in.
Baseball collectors are nowhere near as profit-oriented as their basketball and football frenemies. We tend to take design and nostalgia into account to a far greater degree.
Nonetheless, there is good money to be made in baseball cards, and everyone likes to turn a profit when possible. The great thing about baseball products is that the buy-in is much lower.
As long as that remains true, baseball fans will have profit opportunities that other sports simply do not. Let’s hope Fanatics does not try to take away that significant advantage with higher prices.